The district government of Peshawar has decided to suspend the polio immunisation campaign which was to start on Saturday.
While some officials remained tight-lipped about the reasons, focal person for polio in the district Akram Saha said senior officials took the decision following fresh security concerns.
Earlier, polio workers were gunned down in Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera. While the provincial government decided to launch a fresh campaign to administer the drops to children who missed out as a result of the slayings, the fate of 150,000 children below the age of five years still remains uncertain.
Saha said all relevant staff and polio workers were ready to kick start the inoculation drive, but were informed at around 6pm on Friday that the campaign was postponed. He said the new dates were not being divulged to the media for fear of terrorists getting information which would help them target workers.
Deputy Commissioner Javed Marwat, who is responsible for conducting the vaccination campaign in the district, was unavailable for comment.
Director General of the Health Department Doctor Sharif Ahmed, who was recently appointed as the provincial government’s spokesperson for polio campaigns, said he has nothing to do with the decision.
“Leave us alone. What we have to do and when to do it, when to postpone and when to start the campaign, media should not interfere in this matter. We know our work better,” Doctor Ahmed told The Express Tribune.
Sources familiar with the matter also said they were told to suspend the campaign without being given any reason.
Around 1,780 workers of mobile teams were to launch the door-to-door inoculation drive in the district.
January 14 is the National Immunisation Day and will be observed throughout the country. Meanwhile, a fresh anti-polio campaign is being carried out in 20 ‘sensitive’ union councils in Charsadda, where a female polio worker was killed last month, and will conclude today (Sunday).
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2013.